CM agent v Cm advisor

I’m struggling to under the differences between a CM agent and CM advisor. More specifically, driving factors, roles, etc. I’m also not seeing a contract for agent but I do see one for advisor (A132). Can someone please help explain?


Hi @mroby,

I can help with this one!

I remember how CM-Agent and CM-Advisor are different because “Agent” is a legal term. It refers to someone who acts in another’s stead. So CM-Agent is an additional CM acting in the owner’s place, but does not assume any risk. All savings and risk are passed directly to the owner.

There’s no contract for CM-Agent because the owner is literally hiring someone to be their agent I believe. The CM isn’t technically involved in the construction themselves, they are just serving as a proxy for the owner.

CM-Advisor is not acting in the owner’s stead, but rather advising the owner what they should do. Check out page 514 of the AHPP for their definitions.

As far as the driving factors, refer to figure 9.2 of the AHPP on page 512. Both of these deliveries are primarily driven by risk. This is because in both instances the owner is hiring an extra CM that might not have been necessary.

Note, that often in Construction Manager as Advisor delivery, there are multiple prime contractors directly hired by the owner. CM-as advisor is ancillary to the Multiple-prime contracts the owner holds directly with contractors in these instances… Multiple prime is a very risky project delivery for the owner as they are absorbing risks typically taken by the CM themselves. The most current project delivery relationship diagrams provided by NCARB on their website seem to diagram a multiple-prime with CM-advisor type relationship:

The link above is my favorite resource for understanding project delivery methods outside of the AHPP.

The relationships of CM driven delivery have really been updated and evolved since the AHPP was last re-published in my opinion. It would not surprise me if in the future they removed “CM-Agent” as a project delivery and instead just clarify that an owner might choose to hire an CM as their agent to help reduce risk of the owner by having a construction manager’s professional input and judgement. But that’s just my opinion :slight_smile: Remember, you’re being tested very specifically on the contracts and the AHPP for these exams. So base your answers on what they say!

In my professional experience, I have worked with a CM-Agent once. The project delivery was CM-at risk contractually, but the owner also employed an agent as the ‘owner’ was a senior living facility operating company. The agent acted in their stead on multiple senior living facility projects to help maintain quality control.

Here’s a great presentation on the updates and in general CM led project delivery:

And here’s a video the AIA put out about CM-Advisor

Hope this helps! I know it’s confusing.


Thanks for taking the time to provide such a thorough response. That was very helpful.

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Sorry, one other question related to this. I acknowledge that the CMA will provide input and/or advice that will impact the projects scope, schedule and budget. But is it safe to say that the CMA cannot set those prices or schedule as they are not the constructor? Whereas a CMC would certainly have final say as the constructor?

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Hi @mroby ,

No worries! I am here to help.
You are exactly right. In CM as Constructor they are providing pricing/schedule information as well as constructing the building.

In CM as Advisor they are in an advisory roll to the owner and do not provide the pricing information or construct the building themselves. There are other constructors, often “multiple-prime constructors” who have their own, separate contracts from the one between the owner and CM Advisor.

In CM as Advisor the A132 contract is the contract between the owner and constructor(s). C132 is the agreement between the owner and the CM as Advisor. The website for this document might help you on this question:

Hope this helps!

*note – I updated this because I accidently linked to 2009 version of the contract earlier instead of the most recent 2019.

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